SABS shuts down Chinese stoves factory shop

Chinese-based Tao Ying stove and heaters’ manufacturer in Bloemfontein has finally closed down today (Monday), leaving 462 anguished employees in virtual despondency.

And, now the crunch, for which an in-principle agreement still has to be signed, is whether redundant workers will be granted severance packages, equivalent to two weeks for each year employed by the company.

The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) has ordered the company to shut down after it failed to comply with new production and safety standards set by government. The SABS refused to grant the company seven months extension after Numsa, in conjunction with the management had asked the Department of Trade and Industries to extend deadlines for the new production requirements in order to save jobs.

Government pounced on Tao Ying, producer of non-pressure stove and heaters in Botshabelo, outside Bloemfontein after concerns were raised by community organizations that the company produced dangerous paraffin stoves and heaters which destroyed more than 50 000 shacks, each year causing deaths and injuries.

The company was then forced to cease manufacturing the dangerous stoves and designed a new prototype safer paraffin stove in November last year. All the stove items produced by the company, previously without the approval of the SABS were rendered illegal to distribute or sell in the country with effect from January 1, 2007.

Numsa Free State local organizer Sechaba Malinga said the company agreed to consider offering retrenches severance packages, instead of four months lay-offs. “Only between 50 and 100 retrenched workers may expect to be re-hired after the company has resumed operations after the re-tooling and application process for the permit to sell new stoves has been concluded,” he said.

The discussions around making safer stoves have been continuing for the past two years and the metal and engineering industry bargaining council has since been engaged in trying to persuade government to extend the January, 2007 deadline in order to save jobs.

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